By Lem Satterfield @satterfield_lem
Damascus High School wrestling star Andrew Creedon built momentum from one match to the next during his sophomore season that ended a junior varsity county tournament title.
Fast-forward to this year as Creedon continued his dominance on the mat after he won his first two varsity matches by decisions of 9-5 and 8-6 in overtime before handling his third rival in a 14-2 win.
But the 160-pound junior faced his biggest challenge on Tuesday, Dec. 18, against visiting Sherwood High School in the final match of the night. Despite the narrow margins, the junior scrambled off his back twice to pin senior Jake Stern to win the match and clinch a 34-25 victory for Damascus.
With his team ahead, 28-25, Creedon scored a takedown for a 2-0 lead, escaped a headlock and held a 4-3 advantage entering the second period, where he countered a top-referee’s position cradle for the second-period fall.
“It came up to me, and there were three points separating our teams, and my coaches just told me, ‘You’ve got this,’” said Creedon, whose finish set off a celebration among the frenzied Damascus fans. “He almost had me in a cradle, but I was able to get out of it, slip my arm around his neck and get him. I was glad I was able to get the pin there, because he almost had me.”
Creedon’s effort secured the 156th consecutive dual meet win for the Swarmin’ Hornets (4-0), who, in February, ended their second-straight 25-0 season with their 152nd victory and an unprecedented sixth straight state duals crown.
“That wasn’t necessarily the best team we can put out there, and we’re maybe not as good as last year, so there are teams who think they can get us now,” said junior Timothy Furgeson, a returning state runner-up who defeated regional champion Yusuf Higazi of Sherwood (12-1).
“Our coaches told us after the match that we’ve gotta get used to this sort of an atmosphere, and Creedon and a lot of the other younger guys have really been working hard in the room. They know we’ve gotta step up as a team, and they’re getting better every day.”
The Swarmin’ Hornets’ winning streak ranks sixth nationally according to Wrestling USA Magazine. Teams in front of Damascus’ great run include Brandon, Florida (459 straight wins from 1973-to-2008), Winston Salem Parkland Magnet, North Carolina (266 from 2006-to-2012), Weaver, Alabama (221 from 1991-to-1999), LaGrange Troup County, Georgia (217 from 1988-to-2001) and Bismarck, North Dakota (175 from 1972-to-1986).
“It was a great high school wrestling match. They have a great team and they did a great job getting their kids ready, and we knew that,” said Damascus Head Coach and Timothy’s father John Furgeson. “We knew what we were getting into, and our kids just wrestled their butts off.”
Damascus led 18-0 after five bouts comprised of decisions by sophomore Sam O’Brien (170) and juniors Tim Furgeson (182), Aiden Beall (195) and Mike Harris (285), with senior Elijah Baisden (220) receiving a forfeit.
O’Brien overcame a 2-0 deficit to build a 10-2 lead in an eventual 10-3 victory, and Furgeson, a state runner-up and county and region champion, handled the Warriors’ Yusuf Higazi 7-1.
In the match of the night between Beall, a third-place county and regional finisher, and Sherwood’s Adam Pfeiffer, fourth at counties and third at regions.
Beall led quickly 4-0 following a takedown. He quickly added two near-fall points as well as entering the second period. A reversal had Beall ahead 6-1 but Pfeiffer closed to within, 6-4, on an escape and single-leg takedown.
Beall escaped for a 7-4 advantage entering the third but Pfeiffer escaped to come within two points. Beall was penalized for unnecessary roughness for charging and accidentally clashing heads with Pfeiffer during a break in the action. With the score, 7-6, Pfeiffer pressed for the winning points but could not score more as the Swarmin’ Hornets lead stretched to 9-0.
“It’s hard to dig yourself a hole against a great wrestler. We got ourselves into an 18-0 hold against a good team, and you can’t do either of those things,” said Pfeiffer. “Hats off to them, they out-wrestled us in spots tonight, but it’s early, and we know we can wrestle at a higher level. There’s an entire season still left and a lot of room for growth.”
The forfeit to Baisden, a returning state runner-up and county and region champion, made it 15-0. It was suddenly 18-0 after Harris broke a 1-1 tie for a 3-1 victory, taking down Buck Rogers with 40 seconds remaining in the match.
“First varsity match, and it ended up being big,” said Harris. “I’m just glad I didn’t let the team down by losing the match, especially with how close it was.”
Following a three-bout sweep, the Warriors were within five points (18-12), starting with a forfeit to sophomore Ethan Onslow. The Warriors’ Holda twins, Brandon (113) and Brady (120), earned back-to-back decisions of 7-2 and 6-4 respectively. Brandon, fourth at regions, overcame a tough battle with Damascus’ Joe McKneeley while Brady defeated sophomore Cole DeValle on an overtime takedown.
Sophomores Michael Emerick (126) and Nick Biava (132) dropped from 132- and 138-pounds. Emerick’s 62-second fall stretched their lead to 24-12, and Biava lost, 5-4, to the Warriors’ senior third-place regional finisher Paul Christenson (11-0) for a match score of 24-15.
“Everyone wrestled tough,” Senior Sam Ewing (138) said after he brought Sherwood within five, 24-19, following a 10-2 major decision. “Where they have their studs up top, I thought our guys kept it close for us lighter weights. We learn what we can from this match, and then move on.”
Freshman Chris Hyre came up big in the next match as his 10-2 major decision pushing the Swarmin’ Hornets up 28-19.
“This was my first time on varsity,” said Hyre. “I was very nervous, but this is one of the best matches I’ve ever had.”
Next up was the Warriors’ senior state runner-up Chris Sanchez (152), a county and regional champion who earned a hard-fought, second-period fall to make it, 28-25, before Creedon closed the show.
“Chris Hyre stepped up big time with a crazy win, and we all had faith in Andrew [Creedon,]” said Emerick. “Everyone stepped up big, whether they saved us points or won close matches.”
The Warriors were left to lament what might have been, even as they made a statement concerning how far their program has come.
“This was a tough match. We won six matches and they won eight. There were two or three matches that could have done either way, and we lost all three,” Warriors’ Head Coach Pete Siarkis said. “We tried to make a run at the end. If [Stern] would have gotten that cradle, he would have been a hero. I thought we wrestled good but not great. To beat Damascus, you have to wrestle great.”